The three mitzvot Antiochus forbade were: Shabbat, the determination of the new month, and circumcision.

Shabbat is a testimony that there is a Creator, who rested on the seventh day. The new month was declared by the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, according to the appearance of the new moon, imbuing time itself with Divine meaning. Circumcision imbues holiness into the body. A world without a Creator, time without sanctity, people with no connection to the Divine; this is the spiritual ghetto that Antiochus wanted to force upon the Jews.


Evil occurs when people lock G‑d out of His universe, brazenly asserting that they can do as they wish. Some deny His existence altogether. Others are indifferent, as though the Creator has abandoned His creation. Yet others recreate G‑d in their own image, as an artifact of their own egos, their cravings for power and glory.

Whenever we do a mitzvah or study Torah, we become G‑d's autograph on His masterpiece, declaring for all that this is not just a mess of atoms flying about haphazardly. Neither is it a jungle where the strong devour the weak alive. This is a creation, and one that is filled with the life of its Creator.